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Does Our Existence Depend on the IDF or on Torah?
A few months ago, I posted an essay from Rav Eliezer Melamed about the importance of serving in the IDF. An anonymous commentator just submitted the following comment on an old post:
It amazes me once again that the author continues to hold by the common misconception in the Modern Orthodox community that while Torah learning is a mitzvah, serving in the IDF is a much greater one because Israel's existence depends on it. Does Am Yisroel's existence not depend on Torah learning as well? Is Torah learning not the basis of the existence of the Jewish people?
How many people can see the enormous fatal flaw in his argument? If you don't see it, take a moment to think before reading further.
Mr. Anonymous is committing the common fallacy of using the term "Torah" in an ambiguous way. Yes, Am Yisroel's existence depends on Torah learning as well - in fact, more so than it depends on the IDF (since the IDF only ensures the survival of Jews in Israel, whereas Torah is the lifeblood of the Jewish People everywhere). However, Am Yisroel's existence does not depend on the particular Torah learning of charedi men who are currently receiving a draft deferral. There are plenty of other people learning Torah - including people who are in the IDF!!!
Now, of course you could also make the same argument about Israel depending on the IDF - that it doesn't depend on particular service of 40,000 charedim. Indeed it doesn't. But that's not the point. The point is that since in general Israel requires an army, and in general it is a mitzvah to participate and share this responsibility, there is no reason for charedi yeshiva students to get a deferral.
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